Dumpster Murder Mystery: Woman’s gruesome death leaves Nashville detectives searching for answers

Unsolved Tennessee

Stumped and unsolved, but a South Nashville cold case has not been forgotten. The search for Ashley Brown‘s killer remains an active investigation for Detective Matthew Filter, with Metro Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

“She went outside, and she never came back,” Filter said. “We do have some leads we are following up on. We do have some physical evidence we are working with.”

Brown was 27-years-old when she was murdered in December 2016.

“Something bad happened to my child. Something bad happened to her, and I cannot imagine what the final five minutes of her life were like,” said Ashley’s mother, Julie Brown.

Ashley just moved to Nashville to be a surgical technician. She disappeared after a night out with her friends. She followed them to an apartment at the Park Central building near Centennial Park.

The four days from when she disappeared until when they found her were the four most horrendous days of my life.

– Julie Brown, Ashley’s Mother

Witnesses told police Brown had stepped out for a cigarette around 4 am on December 17 and never came back.

Filter said her body was found December 21 at a garbage disposal site off Frieghtliner Drive, “She was last seen walking out of the apartment, and the next thing we know she was found in the garbage.”

Police believe her body was tossed in the garbage near the apartment and later picked up by a garbage truck with a trash compactor.  

Filter described the disturbing details of her injuries. “There were several injuries, some of them were prior to her death, and then some of them were caused by the garbage compactor, along with the garbage truck and other heavy equipment used to move the garbage around.”

Brown’s cause of death was reported as multiple blunt force trauma and strangulation.

The mystery surrounding her murder remains large and heavy in the hearts of her family and friends.

“It’s hard to smile through the pain,” Trevor Brown, Ashley’s father added, “You can say our lives have forever been changed and altered.”

Ashley Brown

Metro police hope someone remembers more details about that night and comes forward. “It is not very often that you would have something like this happen especially with what would appear to be a stranger-on-stranger-like crime,” Filter explained.

Brown’s purse was still inside her friend’s apartment, and her car was still parked in the garage. No detail is too small.

“With everything that has happened to her it’s hard to believe, it’s hard to accept the fact, that nobody heard anything. Somebody had to have heard something,” said Amy Brown, her stepmother.

Detective Filter said he hopes continuing to share the story with the public will help jog people’s memories, “It’s definitely troubling that you have somebody that’s that cold-blooded that would just…randomly pick a person and…beat them to death, and then throw them in a garbage.”

Brown’s family and police do not want to see the same killer strike again.

“If they are willing to do it this one time they are very likely to do it again,” Filter said, “So it’s a little unsettling knowing that a person like that is out there.”

If you have any information that could help police solve this case call Nashville Crime Stoppers at (615) 74-CRIME or (615) 742-7463. Callers remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward.

News 2 is digging deeper into Tennessee’s most notorious unsolved cases.

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